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Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject?
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Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your
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Fitness questions and answers for August 28, 2007
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com)
has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider
positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders
from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable
cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of
the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the
Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick
Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica
Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.
Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and
has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years
of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.
Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com)
is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds
undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy
from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track,
road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with
and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com)
is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included
World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes.
He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's
degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual
medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization
musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.
Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular
Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University
and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University
of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency
on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated
changes in menstrual function on bone health.
Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling
competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion.
Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.
Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a
former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in
exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com)
is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping
athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie
specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track
racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology
from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology
from John F. Kennedy University.
Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com)
is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16
years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities
from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl,
daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.
Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of
Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before
obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000.
Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows,
he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins,
CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural,
urgent care, inpatient and the like.
Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com)
is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting
(Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association
(Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy
for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports
Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in
the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10
years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.
Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching
experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com)
is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association
of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been
professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels
from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching
with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive
cyclist for 20 years
Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com)
is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training.
He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and
a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).
In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports
Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered
training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past
4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.
Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com)
has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified
USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion,
and a Fitness Professional.
Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United
States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational
purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual
athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews,
you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before
beginning any exercise program.
Increasing muscle mass
Base miles on a home trainer
Breathing & helmet straps
Increasing muscle mass
Hello, I am 185cm and 67kg in weight. I used to be a lot heavier (80kg+) before
I started cycling 2 years ago. However I think I am too thin and feel that I
am not as powerful as a should be for my height. Consequently I would like to
put some muscle weight back on, especially on my legs. I currently ride quite
hard for around 2 hours 2 times a week and 1 hour 3 times a week.
I am a vegetarian and have significantly increased my intake of protein and
overall calories in the past few months, but have thus far not put on any noticeable
weight. I have been told that Whey protein would be a good supplement for achieving
muscle mass gain. Would you agree with this, and could you recommend any other
techniques for increasing leg muscle mass?
Pamela Hinton replies:
Adequate dietary protein is necessary to add muscle mass, but you’ve got
to do more than just increase your protein consumption to gain muscle. With
adequate energy and protein intake, resistance training causes an increase
in muscle mass. As you probably know, fewer repetitions with heavier weights
will stimulate muscle hypertrophy, while more repetitions using lighter weights
increases muscular endurance. To increase skeletal muscle mass in response
to resistance exercise, additional dietary amino acids are required to synthesis
new muscle protein. Athletes who are involved in strenuous resistance training
should consume 1.6-1.7 g protein per kg BW. Protein in food can be scored
on how closely the proportion of amino acids it contains matches the amino
acid composition of muscle protein, correcting for digestibility of the protein.
Proteins that are high quality have the right mix of amino acids and receive
a score of 1.00, while proteins that are missing an essential amino acid or
are poorly digested receive a lower score. Typically, protein from animal
sources like meat (0.9) and egg whites (1.0) is high quality and protein from
plant sources like beans (0.6) and wheat (0.4) is lower quality. For this
reason, vegetarians need to combine plant-sources of protein so that they
get all of the amino acids. Examples of complementary foods are beans and
rice, peanut butter and wheat bread, tofu and rice. Because of the lower protein
quality of plant-based foods, it is recommended that vegetarian athletes consume
1.6-1.7 g protein/kg of body weight; this is higher than the recommendation
for non-vegetarians of 1.2-1.4 g per kg of body weight. Whey protein comes
from cow’s milk. It is easily digested and has the essential amino acids,
so it also gets a score of 1.0.
In addition to the quantity of dietary protein consumed, the timing of protein
ingestion relative to when you exercise also is important. Exercise increases
the rates of protein breakdown and synthesis in skeletal muscle and, with
adequate nutrition, it will have an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle, i.e.,
it will result in a net increase in muscle protein. Carbohydrate consumed
post-exercise is beneficial because it reduces the rate of protein degradation.
However, to increase protein synthesis and achieve a net increase in muscle
mass, it is important to consume protein after exercise. Studies have shown
that consuming about 0.2 g of protein per kg of body weight per hour during
the first 2-3 hours post exercise results in net protein synthesis. Moreover,
the anabolic response to resistance exercise depends on the energy state of
the skeletal muscle. Protein synthesis is turned off in skeletal muscle cells
that are energy depleted. So, you will get a greater benefit from lifting
weights if you do not lift after a long ride. The days you lift weights, you
might consider a shorter ride in the morning, followed by weight training
in the evening—with a good breakfast and lunch in between.
Base miles on a home trainer
Is it possible to build a reasonable base using a home trainer, if you
live in an area where riding is almost impossible?
Scott Safier replies:
Absolutely, so long as you can tolerate the amount of trainer time that you
would have to do on the road to get the base you wanted, maybe 20% less since
there is no coasting on the trainer.
Breathing & helmet straps
I seem to have a problem breathing when my helmet straps are adjusted properly
so that the helmet is relatively snug and doesn't move around very much
on my head. The problem appears to be the way the straps compress the area
between my chin and neck. When I release the straps (or loosen them significantly)
I can breathe much better. Is there anything that can be done so that I
can breathe freely and also have a well fitting helmet. Any advice would
Scott Safier replies:
The helmet just needs to be tight enough that you can't push it off the back
or front of your head, or too far to the side. If you can't get that sort
of fit by adjusting the straps in a way that still allows you to breath, look
at some different helmets. Each brand is based on a particular head-shape
and some stick to certain head and float around on others. When you have a
helmet that is right for you, you should need to adjust the straps snugly
under your chin, but not so tight that you are aware of them after a few minutes
I was interested to read Scott Safier's comment that taking seven days
off of the bike "can really wreck the next couple of months of the season."
Wreck?! Is this the conventional training wisdom? Exactly how much fitness,
and what kind of fitness, can be so dramatically lost in seven days? I was
under the impression that a few days off, especially if it can be planned
for, can actually boost training, or at a minimum not be a cause for major
Most competitive cyclists are paranoid about losing fitness. If we sense any
risk to our fitness we tend to head right out and do just the sort of hard intervals
described in the original letter to Cyclingnews. However, based on most the
advice I have ever received (and often ignored), this type of response seems
prone to result in an adverse training response.
Even though Mr. Safier advocates easing back into training after any layoff,
I think the message most serious cyclists will get is the one that tells them
they will "wreck" their season if they have to be off their bike for a week
for whatever reason. In the real world, riders have jobs, families, injuries
and other things that get in the way of training from time to time. Are we doomed
Scott Safier replies:
A day off the bike can often be a very good thing for a rider's form. Whether
a longer break is good for you depends on your expectations. A rider might
well be stronger after a week off than before, but that would indicate he
or she was doing too much intensity or volume before the break and that most
likely he or she would have been stronger had he or she not trained so hard
before and not taken a week off. In the real world riders have, jobs, families,injuries
and other things that get in the way of training, and they get beaten in races
by riders who have fewer distractions and can devote off-bike time to recovery.
Just so no one gets the impression that I'm advocating lots of intensity
as a way to preserve or maintain fitness, let me be clear that there are far
more riders who would benefit from reducing average intensity than from increasing
it, and also that each rider's individual situation should be considered before
deciding to change any aspect of training.
A big thank you for all of the advice you have give in your contributions
After suffering from on going knee and back problems for several years and
realising I was in the last chance saloon, approx. 18 months ago, I came across
your contributions in Cyclingnews. The key point I learnt from you was to see
a health professional who understood cycling.
Fortunately I was able to afford both the time away from work for appointments
and the cost of the treatments from an excellent Gonstead Chiropractor in
Manchester and I am now back on the bike pain free.
All I need you to do now is to get the England fast bowlers fit!
Steve Hogg replies:
I'm glad that you got a result and are back on the bike.
Best of luck
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles